[Science Update] Maternal diet and HMO profile


In this study, the association between maternal nutrition and human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) profile in mature human milk was investigated. Human milk samples of healthy mothers (n = 101) from the Maternal Microbes (MAMI) cohort* was analyzed. Maternal dietary information and perinatal factors from the same group of subjects were recorded.

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Maternal secretor status

  • Secretors: 75% (76 out of 101), presence of 2’-FL and LNFP-I
  • Non-secretors: 25% (25 out of 101), near absence (< 100 nmol mL-1) of 2’-FL and LNFP-I
  • HMO levels were dependent on maternal secretor status
    • Secretors: higher total HMO levels (p < 0.001) and HMO-bound fucose (p < 0.001); higher presence of 2’-FL (p < 0.001), DFL (p < 0.001), LNFP-I (p < 0.001), LNFP-II (p < 0.001), LNFP-III (p < 0.001), LST c (p < 0.001), DFLNT (p < 0.001), DFLNH (p < 0.001)  and some sialylated HMOs such as 3’-SL (p = 0.010), 6’-SL (p < 0.001) and FDS-LNH (p < 0.001)  
    • Non-secretors: higher levels of 3’-FL (p < 0.001)
  • Maternal nutrient intakes and HMO profiles were associated with maternal secretor status
    • Secretors
      • Higher levels of total HMOs were associated with lower maternal intakes of insoluble fiber, cellulose, hemicellulose, and (poly)phenols
      • Higher levels of 2’-FL and lower levels of 3’-FL were associated with higher intakes of fructose and galactose
      • Fiber and (poly)phenols were the dietary components that contributed significantly to HMO concentrations
    • Non-secretors
      • Lower dietary intakes of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) were associated with higher levels of LNFP-III (p = 0.047), LNH (p = 0.015), FLNH (p = 0.042) and FDS-LNH (p = 0.042)
      • Dietary consumption of starch was negatively associated with DFLNT (p = 0.043) and LNFP-II (p = 0.016)

Relationship between maternal dietary consumption and HMO profiles

  • Various types of carbohydrates and (poly)phenols were the main driving factors of secretor HMO profiles
    • Secretor HMO profiles were associated with (poly)phenols (p = 0.001), both soluble (p = 0.028) and insoluble fibers (p = 0.003), as well as several insoluble polysaccharides such as insoluble cellulose (p = 0.005), hemicellulose (p = 0.005) and pectin (p = 0.015)
  • Mothers with a Cluster I HMO profile had higher dietary intakes of insoluble fibers than those in Cluster II (p = 0.007) and Cluster III (p = 0.007)^
  • Cluster III^ was associated with maternal dietary consumption of saturated fatty acids (SFA) and animal proteins
  • Cluster I^ was associated with (poly)phenols, fibers, hemicellulose, cellulose and pectin

Modest effects of maternal diets on non-secretors’ HMO profiles

  • Maternal diets had less pronounced effects on the overall structure of the HMO pattern in non-secretor mothers when compared to secretor mothers

*It refers to a prospective and observational mother-infant cohort in Spanish Mediterranean area
^Cluster I: higher levels of LNH, FLNH, DSLNH and FDS-LNH
  Cluster II: higher levels of 3’-FL and DFLNT
  Cluster III: higher levels of LNFP-I

2’-FL = 2’-Fucosyllactose; LNFP-I = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose I; DFL = Difucosyllactose; LNFP-II = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose II; LNFP-III = Lacto-N-Fucopentaose III; LST c = Sialyllacto-N-Neotetraose c; DFLNT = Difucosyllacto-N-Tetraose; 3’-SL = 3’-Sialyllactose; 6’-SL = 6’-Sialyllactose; FDS-LNH = Fucosyl-Disialyl-Lacto-N-Hexaose; LNH = Lacto-N-Hexaose; FLNH = Fucosyl-LNH; DSLNH = Disialyllacto-N-Hexaose


Link to the full article:


Selma-Royo M et al. Maternal diet is associated with human milk oligosaccharide profile. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2022;e2200058.

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